Monday 5 December 2016

McCoy's getting used to spectator role - while Enda fancies a flutter

Published 29/04/2015 | 02:30

Tony McCoy poses with the crowd at the first day of the Punchestown Festival. Photo: Damien Eagers
Tony McCoy poses with the crowd at the first day of the Punchestown Festival. Photo: Damien Eagers
Rosanna Davison pictured as she judged the Gold Fever Best Dressed Lady at the opening of The Punchestown Festival yesterday. Photo: Brian McEvoy
Annie Marie Blake from Wexford at the first day of the Punchestown Festival
Taoiseach Enda Kenny with Kirsty Farrell, from Newry, winner of the Goldfever best dressed lady and Rosanna Davidson at the first day of the Punchestown Festival yesterday. Photo: Damien Eagers
Gillain Fitzpatrick at the Punchestown Festival yesterday. Photo: Brian McEvoy
Miriam O'Callaghan at the Punchestown Festival yesterday. Photo: Damien Eagers

Old habits die hard, something retired champion jockey AP McCoy knows all too well.

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McCoy was among the 20,214 punters who attended the first day of the Punchestown Racing Festival and he admitted that not spending the day in his jockeys silks was taking some getting used to.

"It's very different, I've never been jump racing and not been riding," he said.

"It feels quite strange; I've never been into gambling so it's something I'm going to have to get used to."

Laying down bets in the stands may be uncharted territory for McCoy, but the Antrim native was certain he retired at the right time.

"Anytime I feel down about not riding, I remember how lucky I am to be relatively healthy," he said.

"I went to see Robbie McNamara in hospital and that puts a lot of things in perspective. You realise how lucky you are to get out of the game in one piece," he said.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny arrived straight from the Spring Statement in the Dáil, feeling confident. "I might have a flutter before the evening's out," he said.

"National Hunt racing is an essential part of the Irish personality. Days like this are a great day out for everyone - provided you win."

Exhilarating

Former Miss World Rosanna Davison arrived via helicopter before heading over to the Bollinger Tent to judge the first round of Gold Fever's Best Dressed Lady competition.

"It's an exhilarating way to travel," she laughed. "Picking a winner was hard and not just because of the hailstones and freezing wind, the style has been amazing so the competition was tough."

Several chic ladies were shortlisted for the title, but the top prize went to Kirsty Farrell (19), from Newry, who opted for a maroon satin tea length skirt, and a black hat by Millinery by Mairead.

"I totally didn't expect to win. It was a tough competition so I'm just so happy to be picked," she said.

Spirits were high despite the Baltic winds cutting across the stands. Broadcaster Miriam O'Callaghan was relishing an afternoon away from Montrose. "I might wear this fascinator presenting 'Prime Time' tonight and start another fashion fracas," she said - referring to the online furore that erupted after she wore a 1990s-style choker on TV.

O'Callaghan was glad to lay down a few bets and forget about the release of this week's dreaded national radio ratings, the JNLRs.

"I am ratings-obsessed and I love my audience, so I want to do well," she said.

O'Callaghan arrived with RTé's deputy director-general Kevin Bakhurst, who was "hoping to lose less money this year".

Marty Morrissey, Ivan Yates, Bernard Brogan, Aengus Mac Grianna and Paul Flynn also attended the first day of the racing festival.

Willie Mullins-trained Felix Yonger took home the BoyleSports Champion Steeplechase, followed by Baily Green. Douvan won The Herald Champion Novice hurdle.

Irish Independent

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